a clear and transparent process

I applied for a job recently. A job that would be interesting, challenging, and only one day a week. Maybe I could cope with that?

In fact, there were loads of jobs- 3 of our local health organisations were looking for non executive directors for their boards, and one application process for about 15 jobs. I wasn’t really expecting to get an interview, but I was putting my money where my mouth is. I keep saying that all these organisations should have patients at all levels…

Time marched on and I heard nothing, so after the summer I assumed I’d not been shortlisted for interview, and would hear eventually.

Then one day I got three letters, signed by the same person. Each told me I hadn’t been selected for interview by one of the organisations. Each included the results of marking by a panel, ideal for strengthening future applications. Except each panel rejected me for different reasons.

One public appointments process.

One application form.

One set of criteria.

Three selection panels.

Three different interpretations of the criteria.

Three rejection letters (in my case).

Up to three different interviews (for others).

Are  you confused too?


I’ve just looked at the seven principles for public appointments and laughed. There is more to do on this one…

Given that I was rejected for 3 different reasons, and didn’t know where to start beefing up an application, I asked for the full mark sheets.

Be careful what you wish for.

Criterion 1 Business Sense

‘acceptable’, ‘weak’, ‘meets requirements’, ‘does not meet the requirements’

Criterion 2 Corporate Governance

‘limited relevant evidence’, ‘some understanding’, ‘good examples’, ‘limited experience of influence over information in a governance situation’.

(I accept that me not understanding what that last point even means probably rules me out of the position.)

Criterion 3 Stakeholder Engagement

‘highlights range of methods & activities where partnerships were key’, ‘no evidence of partnership arrangements’, ‘limited engagement demonstrated’, ‘clearly acceptable evidence provided’, ‘good examples provided’.

Criterion 4 Self Awareness and Personal Contribution

‘candidate shows a limited sense of self and authority but shows a willingness to challenge and speak out’, ‘acceptable’, ‘evidence of understanding’, ‘limited specific evidence’

Clearly, none of the three panels rated me. Also, I have work to do on my applications, but it is instructive how different the comments were. On each panel there was a member who either wrote nothing at all, or simply ‘weak’, ‘adequate’, ‘limited’.

Soon, I will have regrouped and have a plan. In the meantime I’m wondering how this process helps promote the patient voice or increases the diversity of our boards.

And I need to develop some resilience. I am not ‘weak’. I just haven’t developed the right language yet.



7 thoughts on “a clear and transparent process

  1. It hurts. Rejection that is. When added to such arbitrary judging, have to laugh as otherwise cry. Actually, what it makes me think is I do hope you keep trying and whoever ends up getting you will then be laughing all the way to their better future. Also wonder what would have happened if you had got through to the interview part of the process? At every level it seems there are so many people applying for each and every job, or people (like public appointments board) looking for their magic person to straighten out all their problems, that no-one ever gets to meet the people they might work with. One of my sisters has reported similar experience. Baffled by bullshit indeed.

    1. I’m really puzzled by the process and may still ask more questions. A friend got 2 interviews- despite huge and varied experience, one of the Boards didn’t even want to talk to him. Mind boggling. It seems we have a merry go round of people who sit on all the boards, knowing all the people, getting all the experience, beefing up their pensions happily. Diversity?

    1. Oh, I always agree with Elspeth 🙂 I’m not surprised I didn’t get an interview, but if I’d got one letter I’d have been a bit put out and then thought no more about it. It’s the bizarre process that has me mad!

  2. Good grief! I think it shows a tremendous sense of self that you requested the full reports and still say that you hope to learn something from them. I think you’re completely right when you recognize that you just haven’t found the right way to represent your strengths and skills. It sounds like there’s a vocabulary they’d like to use. When you find the key to that, they’ll sing a more pleasant (and cohesive) tune! 🙂

    1. I plan on becoming fluent in gobbledygook, Debra. I will knock them out, eventually. Obviously, simply telling them about my skills and experience and how they meet the criteria is not sufficient!

  3. The polarity of the responses is pretty bizarre. In the end, though, I feel most of these situations boil down to how well your application “pings” on the buzzwords that are meaningful to the various board members. What would be good to know for any similar future endeavors is in what particular way do they describe the experiences and attributes they find desirable. Then be sure to use those words and phrases in which they describe their ideal qualified person in your application as much as possible. I’m sure with your tenacity, you’ll figure it out and next go around you’ll get there.

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